Talking 'Bout My Generation
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
ENTERTAINMENT AS NEWS, NEWS AS ENTERTAINMENT
These are the things that make the top news stories these days. Why? Because people watch it. People are fascinated by it. These people don't care to hear about how many of their fellow countryman died yesterday in the Iraq war, or whether the 1915 massacre of the Armenians was ruled a Genocide, or even how women's health rates have declined across most US States. These things aren't funny or entertaining like celebrity news stories. On the contrary, they're problematic and disconcerting.
This isn't to say that people don't care about these issues. Such is not the case, but the complacent American public, in general, seems more content to leave these bigger issues up to the policiticians to report on and resolve, while they kick back and turn up Entertainment Tonight.
CNN, MSNBC, and FOX NEWS reports on Paris Hilton
Still, you might be surprised by how much these young purveyors of culture actually do keep up on what's going on beyond the gossip. Sure their primary news source isn't CSPAN or MSNBC (who continually headline these same celebrity stories that comprise the gossip mags), but rather Comedy Central. Yep, you heard me right. If people want entertainment news, well then give them news thats entertaining. Shows like "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" ultimately serve as major world and national news sources of my generation.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
THE MUSIC IN ME
So what sparked this rant? Well, while hanging out with my usual gang, something just clicked. We started the evening with the traditional Texas Hold'Em Tournament (to which I spanked 5 guys in 20 minutes, a boast-worthy victory indeed), then graduated to a rousing game of beer pong on the millennial hand-crafted table in the middle of the living room. But somewhere between games of Beer Pong, as alternating tunes from Guitar Hero provided our soundtrack, and a rousing porch-side political debate, something shifted. Matt, a law student friend of mine, who is interestingly enough a gifted self-taught pianist, began banging out some familiar tunes on the piano. Slowly but surely we all gravitated to the back wall, where the white and black keys were in full fury with "Piano Man." And before we even knew what had happened, we all started to sing.
These aren't nerdy guys. These aren't weird guys. They're just your everyday beer-drinking, sports-watching dudes. And they had a sing-along. Without skipping a beat or with the slightest hesitation, we sang. Not one song, but many songs...flipping furiously through the pages of the classic rock "fake" book, exclaiming, "can you do this one?" and "oh man, this song is great! play that one!"
My Millenial Friends engaging in another impromptu sing-a-long at our Halloween party.
These are the things research will never show you. These are things that the mountains of statistics can never indicate or even imply. Just when you think you've got this audience all figured out, we'll surprise you in the most interesting of ways. That is what makes this generation so great.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
THE CULT OF FANTASY FOOTBALL
Fantasy football really revolutionizes the way you view the games, and the internet has certainly revolutionized how fantasy games are played. Yahoo! Fantasy Sports has this amazing thing called StatTracker where you can follow your players live online. This is key, as the NFL has some shady deal with DirectTV, so unless you've got their NFL Sunday Ticket at $300 a pop, you're not getting to watch most games at all.
One little trick I've found (sans internet on my phone) is GOOGLE SMS. Did you know you can text the word "GOOGLE" practically anything, and it'll send you a text back (standard messaging rates apply) almost instantly? Philadelphia Eagles Score. Boom, there it is in a flash. Info at the push of a button, anytime, anywhere, that's the Millennial way.
While Fantasy Sports are by no means an activity played by all, it certainly has a huge following, particularly in the 20-something crowd. Football, Baseball, Basketball, even Hockey and Golf. Its all about control, customization, knowledge-based skill, and ole fashioned good luck. You know, getting involved. Its not just about watching sports anymore, its about playing along. It keeps us on the cutting edge. Plus, who doesn't like a friendly competition among friends?
WES ANDERSON, A NEW KIND OF COMEDY
Moreover, as Halloween approaches (a huge holiday for my friends especially), I felt like Wes was worth a mention. His specific style has been an inspiration for many a costume. My buds might even being reprising their role as "Team Zizzou" this season...or maybe go the "Royal Tenenbaums" route...only time will tell.
QUIRK, KITSCH, AND YOU
So what is Quirk and why has it rubbed so many people the wrong way? The Atlantic Monthly produced a fascinating article this month (found here) on the merits (or lack there of) of this American phenomenon. The contributing editor for this publication, Michael Hirschorn defined "quirk" as: “an embrace of the odd against the blandly mainstream. It features mannered ingenuousness, an embrace of small moments, narrative randomness, situationally amusing but not hilarious character juxtapositions...and unexplainable but nonetheless charming character traits. Quirk takes not mattering very seriously. Quirk is odd, but not too odd. That would take us all the way to weird, and there someone might get hurt." I have to say I love this definition b/c it captures that kind of American sensibility and tendency towards the strange yet sincere. There is certainly a sweetness to quirk that makes it resonate most with American audiences. Quirk is "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Flight of the Conchords." Its the newest YouTube sensation "Leave Britney Alone" and "Arrested Development" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou." Its comedy, its oddity, its fun, its heart-warming while still maintaining a little roughness around the edges. Its not American reality, but rather a play on American sensibilities and culture.
The problem I think people are having lately with "Quirk" is not that they themselves lack an understanding of its charm. Rather, it is the fact that this previously counter-culture-esque movement has now found its way into the mainstream. Nearly everyone has "Napoleon Dynamite" listed as one of the favorite movies on facebook these days, proudly dawning their "Vote for Pedro" tees. Nearly every college-aged minion can drop "Anchorman" quotes like its their job. This transition should come as no surprise as nearly every counter-culture movement finds it way into the mainstream eventually. Even the goths and punks of the world find most of the wardrobe that defines them at the billion-dollar franchise that is "Hot Topic." "Urban Outfitters" is another perfect example of this. Its always this notion of "selling out" that gets people all riled up over any elements of our culture, but that's just the way it goes I guess.
I have to say I embrace the heart-warming qualities of Quirk and am not so quick to write it off as the latest pop cult phase of our generation. Sure, it'll continue to gain momentum until it so saturates our culture that even I will be ready for something new. But for now, let's just enjoy it, shall we? Its better than the infamous mindless reality tv phase of only a few years before, don't you think?
MYSPACE TV GOES ONLINE
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Oh, and did I mention that my little favey "frat boy" from ABC Family's series GREEK Scott Michael Foster is starring in the series alongside the title character played by Bitsie Tulloch.
**UPDATE 11/19/2007** NBC has just completed negotiations to air the "QUARTERLIFE" internet series on NETWORK TV via NBC starting sometime in early 2008 (once the series has aired on the internet in its entirety). It will be put together in the form of 6 one-hour episodes, a form its producers had originally intended for it to be aired in the first place.
KANYE'S "STRONGER" INFLUENCE
And for a fun throw-back to the original. Check out this video made below by a YouTube user and clear Daft Punk fanatic. Its amazing:
M-M-M MY MILLENNIALS!
BORN: 1978-1995 (Age 12-29)
75 Million Strong
Characterized as: Self-Confident, Hopeful, In-the-Know, Techno-Saavy, Self-Reliant, Driven, Diverse, Impatient, Flexible, Inclusive, and Questioning
Value: Authenticity, Respect, Honesty, Efficiency, and Diversity
Motto: "More, better, faster!"
Everything you ever see about this "elusive and ever-evolving" generation is written about by old nerdy white guys with computers. Statistics, statistics, statistics. Sure, they can crunch numbers and churn out the "what's hot and what's not" of it all...but its a day late and a dollar short so to speak. By the time it hits their printers, its usually common knowledge and the corporations so desperately "cool-hunting" have usually already hopped on the bandwagon anyway.
I'm here to break it down for ya. Straight from the horse's mouth. Now, am I going to be able to speak for ALL people in my generation? Not even close. I speak for myself and for those I know best, but I can tell you that that experience is probably leaps and bounds ahead of the people researching it in the first place. Ultimately, their research is great...but it comes too late and for a hefty price. For up the the minute hits and trends with the younger market, I hope I can bring it straight to you with the click of a mouse button. Afterall, that's how us millennials like it done.